Your little one grows up really fast. The height and weight gain in the first few months is quite remarkable. But have you wondered whether his/her cognitive skills are also developing that well? What if your baby’s nutrition has a role in this?
Breast milk is the primary source of nutrients for your baby in his first two years. Specifically produced for an infant’s nutritional requirements, it is the perfect blend of all the nutrients that an infant needs to keep him healthy and support his rapid growth in these early years.
During the early years, your baby’s nutrition determines not only his physical growth, but also his health, organ development, and most importantly, supports his rapidly growing brain. Breast milk is the perfect source of nutrition for your infant at this stage.
Essential Fatty Acids
Balanced nutrition is essential for optimal development. One of the essential nutrients for brain development includes healthy fats, or essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids play an important role in overall organ and tissue development, as well as brain development. The most important ones are Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fats (LC PUFAs) - DHA and ARA, which are linked to normal brain development during infancy.
Essential fats are not produced by the body, so they have to be in the food we consume. The best source of DHA and ARA for your baby is through breast milk, which is rich in healthy fats, especially the LC PUFAs, which enhance visual and cognitive development.
DHA and ARA
DHA and ARA are phospholipids, which are fatty acids that form cell membranes. They are also involved in the functioning of the nervous system.
- DHA is concentrated in the cells of the brain and retina, and is thus essential for visual development.
- Breastfed children receive DHA and ARA, and thus have better neural and cognitive functioning.
- These nutrients also improve IQ scores
- Breastfeeding also helps with improving problem solving abilities in infants.
The importance of DHA and ARA should not be ignored during these early years, because a deficiency of nutrients can have an impact on a baby’s development. For a healthy growth of your baby’s brain, he must be breastfed, so that he can receive enough high quality nutrition in the right quantity.
The brain grows rapidly during the first two years, and requires support from the right nutrients for development at a normal rate. Breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months, and continuing until at least the age of 2 years helps your baby receive a good balance of these fats, as well as all the other nutrients that influence his long term cognitive functioning.